‘Basil’ is derived from the Greek word for ‘royal’. And this little herb is totally living up to its name.
According to research basil can protect DNA from free-radical induced damage – basil is rich in orientin and vicenin, two flavonoids that have been shown to reduce chromosomal damage.1
Basil may also inhibit the growth of bad boys Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus and Escherichia coli – these antibacterial effects are thought to be down to the various essential oils present in the leaves.2
Not only a protector of DNA and a fighter of bacteria, basil is also looking out for our joints. Studies suggest that basic may reduce arthritic pain. The essential oils found in basil are able to render cyclooxygenase (COX) less active. Inhibiting COX can provide relief from the symptoms of inflammation and reduce pain.3 In fact, that’s how popular painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen work.
How to Use, Cook & Store Basil
Taste: Very aromatic with a robust licorice flavor
Get the most out of this herb: If you have to buy dried basil, look for some organic ones and keep them for no more than six months.
Pairs well with: Fresh basil pairs well with tomatoes, olive oil, vinegars, nuts, peppers, squash, eggplant, mushrooms and poultry.
Great in: pestos, sandwiches, pizza, bruschetta, salads, soups, sauces, stews, tomato dishes, ground meats
Prep like this: For maximum flavor cut into thin strips. An easy way to do this is to stack the basil leaves and roll tightly. Then cut the roll into thin strips with a knife or tear by hand.
1. 1. Aga M, Iwaki K, Ueda Y, et al. (2001) Preventive effect of Coriandrum sativum (Chinese parsley) on localized lead deposition in ICR mice. J Ethnopharmacol.; 77(2-3):203-8.
2. Nayak V, Devi PU. (2005) Protection of mouse bone marrow against radiation-induced chromosome damage and stem cell death by the ocimum flavonoids orientin and vicenin. Radiat Res.; 163(2): 165-71
3. Moghaddam AMD, Shayegh J, Mikaili P, Sharaf JD. (2011) Antimicrobial activity of essential oil extract of Ocimum basilicum L. leaves on a variety of pathogenic bacteria. J Med Plant Res.; 5(15):3453-6.